Erotic Love in Sociology, Philosophy and Literature: From Romanticism to Rationality

Erotic Love in Sociology, Philosophy and Literature: From Romanticism to Rationality

by Finn Bowring

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Why is 'love' taken for granted as a part of human experience? And why is sexual or romantic love in particular so important to us? This book aims to find out, tracing the intellectual history of sexual love, from the ancient Greeks to the modern day.

Erotic Love shows how discourses of love have intersected with social and cultural trends, as well as with personal events and experiences. Beginning with the queering of love in Greek antiquity, it looks at how sexual love has been sung about, fictionalized and theorized as a cornerstone of the formation of Western culture. From the courtly love of twelfth-century troubadours and the rise of affective individualism in the eighteenth century, to the way the novel helped catalyze and crystallize the hopes and contradictions of love and marriage, these are decisive episodes in the history of romantic love. Lastly, the book deals with how sociologists and feminist theorists have made sense of the liberalization of sexuality over the last fifty years, especially given the post-romantic pragmatism of commercialized dating practices.

Arguing against the over-rationalism of intimate life, Erotic Love recognizes the need to liberate love from patriarchal, racist and homophobic prejudices, and highlights the value of literary and sociological traditions to emphasize how they dignify the rhapsodies and the sufferings of love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781350092242
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 08/22/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Finn Bowring is Senior Lecturer of Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. He is the author of Science, Seeds and Cyborgs: Biotechnology and the Appropriation of Life (2003) and Hannah Arendt: An Introduction (2011).

Table of Contents


Introduction: Love is Love is Love.

1. Eros in Ancient Athens
Eros, erastes, eromenos
All things in moderation
Greek pederasty and the problematisation of pleasure
Philia, friendship and reciprocity

2. Platonic Love
The Symposium: Phaedrus and Pausanias
Socrates and Diotima
The ladder of love
What about me?
Love in Plato's Phaedrus
Enter Alcibiades
The double flame
The anthropology of love

3. Courtly Love
Tristan and Iseult
The cautery of desire
The religious origins of courtly love
Eros vs agape
The feminism of love
The sanctity of the person

4. Affective Individualism and the Conjugal Family
A family state of mind
Love before modernity
The sexual revolution
Women in early capitalism
Affective individualism and bourgeois romanticism
Marriage and the double standard
Troubled pleasures

5. Novel Passions
'Reader, I married him.'
Romance and the Slave Narrative
The improbability of love
Love is in the head
Subverting gender
Conjugal love disrupted
Love and nature

6. Lawrence's Love
The individual against society
Utopia and disappointment
The sensuality of woman
The sacrament of marriage
Lawrence's worldliness
'Repress nothing!'
The liberation of Frieda Weekley
Lawrence in love
The dialectic of love

7. The Classical Sociology of Love
Even Marxists fall in love
The desacralisation of marriage
The beloved's right to secrecy
The sacrament of sex
The asceticism of Max Weber
The parcelling-out of the soul
Between passion and cognition

8. Religion, Rationality and Eroticism in Max Weber
Religious rejections and the acosmism of love
The search for meaning
Aestheticism and eroticism
Weber falls in love
Rationalisation revisited

9. Love in Late Modernity
Repressive desublimation
The deployment of sexuality
Reflexive rationalisation and the pure relationship
The fatal heroism of love
The casualization of love
Existential love
Emotional capitalism
Love's hurtful reason
Hierarchies of emotional competence

Conclusion: Reclaiming the Romantic Imaginary


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